Calvin had told him about Hobbes. Jason knew how much effort it had to have taken: Calvin spent most of the time staring at the floor or at the wall just over his left shoulder. It was obvious he expected to be laughed at. After all, how many college students still believed in their imaginary friends?
In the end, Jason had just accepted it as one of Calvin’s quirks. One of Calvin’s many quirks. Like talking to himself when he through no one was looking. Or drawing his professors as herbivores being eaten by a giant T-rex in the margins of his notebooks. Or the fact that Calvin set the kitchen on fire more often than he actually succeeded in cooking dinner, and was proud of that fact. He could live with all that.
It was the other things. The unexplained depressions on pillows or towels or blankets left on the floor, like some giant feline had curled up on them to take a nap. The muddy pawprints across the floor as big as his hand. The flashes of orange and black he sometimes caught out of the corner of his eye.
Some minor psychosis on the part of Calvin he could live with, but the unexplained was driving Jason absolutely nuts.
He understood why Calvin talked to empty rooms. Jason found himself talking to the empty rooms, especially when he lost a cord to his computer or something took a nosedive off a shelf. “Hobbes!” became a sort of rallying cry around his apartment. Calvin always came to see what was going on, laughing more times than he helped.
“Hobbes likes you,” Calvin announced one night over Chinese take-out.
“Good,” Jason said. “Tell him to give me back my physics book.”
The book was at the foot of his bed the next day. With teeth marks.
Given how much Hobbes was a part of Calvin’s life, it only made sense that Jason would get to know him the more time they spent around each other. However, when their relationship stalled, it came as a surprise to Jason when the tiger took a more active role. It shouldn’t have, but it did.
Calvin might not get the details, but he always managed to grasp the joke whenever Jason told one. He wasn’t a brainiac like Jason was, but he wasn’t stupid by a long shot. Part of the reason he loved telling Calvin about his day as they walked around campus enjoying the slowly warming weather
“So we were talking about how they put keyboards and high performance microchips on practically everything these days, and the guy next to me started talking about super computing over at IBM…” Jason started. He paused when a flash of orange caught his eye. Calvin froze too, his head whipping around to track the movement.
Then everything was a blur of orange and black and the cream of Calvin’s sweater. There was the ground, and the softness of fur, and then Jason realized that he had somehow wound up on top of Calvin. Nose to nose. With a steady pressure on his back holding him there.
Despite what Paige said, Jason could take a hint. He leaned down and kissed Calvin.
“I think you’re right. Hobbes likes me,” Jason said when the broke for air.
“Yeah, but I’m still getting him back for that,” Calvin replied. Then he pulled Jason back down for another kiss.